As 2016 rapidly winds down, it’s the perfect time to honestly assess your radio station – its activities, projects, and initiatives. This is especially the case for stations that have been around for at least a decade – or decades.
Between tradition, sponsorships, and budget issues, it’s not at all unusual for stations to be engaged in activities and events that have perhaps worn out their welcome – or need reinvention. The concept of assessing the station arsenal – events, features, sales promotions – and virtually every activity that’s part of the station brand is the topic of a new exercise you might want to consider before the end of the year.
As a programmer, I recall many events – steeped in history and tradition – that my station did year in and year out, even though we often questioned their impact, effectiveness, and value. Like movie sequels, the more you find yourself referring to events as “The 10th annual,” you may be dealing with tired concepts that need to be freshened – or terminated.
If you've been around your station for a while, you may be asking yourself, “Why are we still doing this?” only to get caught up in the inertia that is so common to how radio stations operate.
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And if you're new to a station, this exercise can be the perfect way to bring your core staff together to honestly assess the value of so-called “evergreens” that have become zombie-like.
Conceived by GoKart Labs’ partner Matthew Johnson, the idea is to “assess historical/current activities” that in this case, are common to radio stations in multiple departments – programming, promotions, digital and sales.
Matthew’s premise is that these activities can be broken into three categories:
These are ideas, events, and features that aren’t necessarily “dead or alive.” They simply walk through the organization, sucking up time and resources. Johnson stresses they need to be killed or brought back to life. In their “undead” stage, they can sap the energy and life out of stations.
2. Dead bodies
These are ideas, features, promotions, and events the station has tried, they've failed, and shouldn’t be brought back. And yet, how often are station teams guilty of repeating events and features that didn’t work the first time? Sometimes, these cadavers continue to take up space at the station because they have dollars attached to them. Yet, they're still very dead.
And here Johnson underlines unexpected heroes – initiatives that perhaps surprised the team because they exceeded everyone’s expectations. The key is to determine what worked well about these features, events, and promotions and how can those characteristics and elements be applied to new initiatives?
You can read about how Matthew envisions the exercise here.
If phrases like “because we’ve always done it” or “it’s part of our tradition” are heard in your hallways and conference room, they’re symptoms there may be “zombies” lurking in your station. This strategic activity helps you take a deeper look down the sales cubicles, into the prize closet, and inside the production studio to truly freshen your station as you head into the new year.
The last thing a radio station needs are people, events, and initiatives that fall under the heading of “the walking dead.” Not getting hung up on the “zombies,” in your operation, and instead, focusing on those “heroes” is the first step in planning a successful 2017.
Let us know how it works out.
Thanks to Mike Stern for passing this along.
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Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.